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Refugees in Nyiragongo left out from Humanitarian Relief Support to the Volcano Victims: Our very first intervention since May 2021 in favor of refugee victims of the eruption of Nyiragongo Volcano in North Kivu/ DRCongo.
Thank you so much for your kind donations towards this particular group of people called refugees who were also affected by the Volcano. Because of your support, we donated food items to refugee families who are in a dire situation. We still rely on your support in order to do more because many people do need help especially women and children.
On Wednesday July 21st, 2021 a team from Global Refugee Leaders Forum/ Humanite Plus, in collaboration with Association des Jeunes Visionnaires pour le Development du Congo, et le Commite des Refugies Urbain des Refugies, donated food items to refugees victims of Volcano. This activity took place in Ngangi II in Nyiragongo Division, where a big number of refugees victims are living, hosted either by the local population, stay in churches and other public places.
These refugees mainly from Rwanda and Uganda have not managed to move to the sites provided by the government due to the fear of security because these sites are located near the border with Rwanda, but also they fear being victims of various forms of discrimination and stigmatization especially being considered as “rebels or spies”. In the process all various interventions by humanitarian actors have totally ignored their presence. In actually sense there is an urgent need for a plan that will cover the needs of refugees in both Goma and in Nyiragongo who have been affected either directly or indirectly by the eruption of the Volcano, estimated at around 15,000 refugees.
Nyiragongo is one among the Division surrounding Goma and actually highly connected to Goma Town, but it is not yet officially recognized as one among the Divisions of Goma. Nyiragongo hosts a large number of refugees among them those who are already registered and those who are not yet registered, refugees come in Nyiragongo because of various reasons among:
1. Cheap houses: In most cases houses are very cheap to rent and this makes easier for refugees who do not have enough money, but also sometimes refugees are given free accommodation in order to guard the land and other properties,
2. Possibility to dig and earn a living: Refugees do move to Nyiragongo because sometimes they have that chance to be employed in gardens much as this is very cheap labor, where a refugee is paid less one 1$ per day,
3. Easy to access Virunga National Park: This helps refugees to cut trees and sell them either for firewood, for construction and make charcoal which is highly used in Goma in order to make a living.
4. Security reasons: Refugees do always fear attacks from Rwanda and being near the Park helps them to run towards there once they find themselves at risk,
Refugees from Nyiragongo are not categorized by UNHCR as being among those who are supposed to receive assistance from UNHCR, they live in misery alongside poor Congolese host communities and they lack everything.
UNHCR Goma, has put in place well-constructed myths and stenotypes that justify the denial of assistance to these refugees which portray a clear mismatch between fiction and the reality. On the other side, the Congolese Authorities from CRN, always claim that they are not responsible for humanitarian relief aid to refugees indicating that it the work of UNHCR.
Beyond being refugees who have spent 28 years on the run in DRCongo, being in foreign country with limited access to opportunities, and now in May 2021 they were hit like any others by the eruption of Nyiragongo Volcano, these refugees are three times more vulnerable than an ordinary Congolese citizen in the same area.
The categories of Refugee Victims are as following:
1. Those whose house and everything they had were ravaged by the Volcano,
2. Those who fled their houses running away from the volcano and when they came they found most of their properties were stolen from their houses, and left with nothing up to now,
3. Refugees who were living in the surroundings and hosted victims of Nyiragongo in their homes for many days and together they consumed everything they had, and now are left with nothing,
4. Refugees who are being chased from the houses and land they were guarding because Congolese people who were living in Goma are now moving towards Nyiragongo in places which are perceived as more safe from the Volcano,
5. These refugees are added to those other ones who are running away from Masisi because of the ongoing military operations against armed groups,
They are all now facing challenges equally in both Goma and in Nyiragongo, and they most urgent needs include:
3. Medical treatment
4. Clothes and shoes
Since May 2021 various interventions where put in place in order to help those victims of Nyiragongo Volcano, not much has been done to focus on refugees and to understand how refugees have been particularly affected. Despite the presence of UNHCR and Congolese authorities from CNR being around and despite the visits of UNHCR Officials from Kinshasa, we have not yet observed particular actions being oriented towards refugees. In commemorating the World Refugee Day June 20th, UNHCR Kinshasa indicated to intervene and help “refugees victims on the Volcano” with cash assistance which has not yet been done up to now, and no clear information is available to refugees.